Druze-Arab men, unlike other Arab citizens of Israel, are subject to the same mandatory conscription as Jewish Israelis. Kamal Zidan is refusing because of his Palestinian identity.
Kamal Zidan, an Arab-Druze citizen of Israel, presented himself at the Israeli army’s Tel HaShomer induction based last Sunday and declared that he refuses to be conscripted into the IDF. Zidan, whose refusal is based on his Palestinian identity, was sentenced on the spot to five days in military prison by an administrative tribunal.
Unlike Muslim and Christian Arab citizens of Israel, Druze men are subject to mandatory military conscription just like Jewish Israelis.
“The chances of getting exempt from service are not high, and he is expected to be jailed again,” said Yaman Zidan, Kamal’s lawyer and father. Other refusers have spent months in prison, sentenced to anywhere from a five to 30 days at a time.
Yaman, who has two brothers that died during their military service, is one of the founders of the Urfod Movement, which advocates for draft refusal among Druze citizens in Israel. Yaman himself refused to serve, and now, his son is following his footsteps.
During his week in military prison, Zidan says he was kept in harsh conditions, including being placed in solitary confinement. Upon his release, he was told to return to the induction base at the end of the Passover holiday next week.
“They put him in solitary confinement with surveillance cameras filming 24 hours a day, because he’s refusing all orders. He’s refusing to salute the officers and commanders that enter his cell,” said Yaman, the father.
“I’m not a soldier, so don’t treat me as one,” Kamal added.
The constant surveillance is a blatant violation of privacy, Kamal and his father said. Furthermore, Kamal described having to sleep on a bare mattress because no sheets were provided to him.
He said was allowed to bring only one book into the cell. During the day, he was forbidden from laying on the bed, he added, and the light in his cell was kept on throughout the night, which made it hard to fall asleep.
“If he lays on the bed, they go in and force him up. Once, they even took away his mattress as punishment. There was another case in which he was handcuffed for laying down. They want him to sit in the same position...Read More